Long time reader, first-time poster. Go easy.
First off, I gotta take my hat off to Pete, who has really done a tremendous amount of work in experimentation, research, and documentation in the year-plus that this thread has been going. I have learned so much information about pizza dough which had previously eluded me, and I never would have arrived at what I consider to be the best pizza in my city if it wasn't for his work, so thanks a ton.
I'm 37, married with two kitchen-loving kids (5 and 2) in Madison WI. I started baking in 1988, and was the head night baker for The Bunnery in Jackson Hole, WY in 1990 (no I'm not the person responsible for the awesome OSM bread recipe, but I still have all the recipes at home
) after which I came back to Madison and ran the prep kitchen for Botticelli's, learning about soups, sauces and honing my knife skills. I gradually moved over to a night bakery position there because of my love for the craft. I had also held college jobs at various pizzerias (Little Caesars, Pizza Hut) and learned a bit about throwing rounds. I am also a computer programmer, and in the mid-90s began working as a website designer and applications programmer, which removed me from the food service industry entirely (for better and worse).
The biggest problem for me as a home baker is the difference in restaurant standard ingredients vs. consumer grade. I guess I just never realized how precious those 50 pound bags of 14.5% high-gluten flour really were.
I simply love to work with dough (it's a sickness according to my wife.....that and fishing). Dough is not a silent mushy ball. Dough tells you what it needs if you know how to read it, and a lot of that comes with experience. Recently, I embarked on a mission to create my own sourdough starter and master the basic water-starter-flour-salt baguette and it brought back memories of throwing dough at Little Caesar's. I have not had much luck with any pizza dough recipe I'd found at the typical recipe sites like epicurious and cooking.com. Something just wasn't working at all. The various doughs always seemed to taste like bread, regardless of what I did to them.....and I tried a lot of different recipes. Then I magically found this thread in Google when searching for New York Style Pizza. Duh. Gluten. Duh. I thought I was getting somewhere when I started using bread flour and it turned out a bit better, even though I was trying to get away from the "bready" flavor. I figured it was just that I had too much breadmaking under my belt to be able to pass off an authentic NY style pizza crust.
Alright, I've been doing the Lehmann recipe for a few weeks, using Pillsbury bread flour (I can't find KASL anywhere locally) and then finally came into the posts about supplementing the flour with gluten. I went out, bought a bag of King Arthur Bread Flour and some Arrowhead VWG at the local Whole Foods. The first thing I noticed when I yanked open the KA flour bag was HOLY CRAP this flour is sooooooo much finer, softer, and fluffier than the Pillsbury bread flour. It looked like tiny tiny snowflakes, and the bag was slightly bigger than the pillsbury for the same poundage. Now, the KA is twice the price of the Pillsbury, but it's gotta be 100 times better.....and hell, it's FLOUR we're talking about, not gasoline. You EAT it. I tried my version of Pete's Lehmann recipe, which is:
- 12.45 Oz King Arthur Bread Flour
- just under 1 Tablespoon Arrowhead VWG
- slightly rounded teaspoon of morton iodized salt (the cylindrical box, not coarse kosher)
- 7.80 Oz H20 @ 95 degrees F
- 1/2 teaspoon fleischmann yeast
- just under 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- almost 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil
I weighed out the flour (as I sifted it), measured out the dry ingredients and blended with the flour.
I weighed the water and put it in my KitchenAid Pro 6 with the dough hook on speed 1. Then I started my timer and added all the dry ingredients over the course of about 20 seconds. I left the speed on 1 and waited for the three minute mark. Then I added the almost 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil, and let the mixer go another two minutes. Occasionally I dropped the bowl down to reposition the dough on the fly. At 5 minutes, the dough was grabbing nicely, so I pulled it out and hand-kneaded for about another minute. So a total of 5 minutes in the mixer (never go above speed 1, it's really unnecessary for this task) and 1 extra minute by hand. One thing I've been learning with sourdough is that overkneading/overhandling wrecks the crumb, and I suspect that most people with mixers have a tendency to overknead because their triceps aren't invested in the task.
I balled 'em up and threw them in a large, olive-oiled tupperware container (with a little concavity to the lid for air expansion, so it wouldn't pop off in the fridge) 24 hours later, I threw a round into an old 15" Pizza Hut deep dish pan (I got a dented one from the store I worked long ago for free, and worked out the dent). I don't let it touch the sides of the pan, or it tends to brown the edge of the crust too much for my taste. Added some decent pizza sauce (where can I get 6-1s?) and shredded some decent local mozz over the top. a couple finger-ground sprinkles of pizza spices on top and then into the 475 degree oven for around 10-11 minutes.
I like simplicity. I like the basic cheese pie. This was BY FAR the best results I've ever had. I owe most of it to you guys. Thanks. It was very nearly a perfect replica of the NY street pies I remember from long ago. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.